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'Angry' Paula Radcliffe speaks out after MPs' doping scandal hearing

Published 09/09/2015

Paula Radcliffe said she was 'devastated that my name has even been linked to these wide-ranging accusations'
Paula Radcliffe said she was 'devastated that my name has even been linked to these wide-ranging accusations'

British distance running legend Paula Radcliffe said she is angry and sad at being linked to the doping scandal engulfing athletics, and insisted she is totally innocent.

The women's marathon world record holder and three-time London Marathon winner broke her silence after a parliamentary hearing into the doping scandal.

She said the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee had "effectively leaked" her identity "under the guise of there being a British athlete and London Marathon winner who is erroneously under suspicion", despite not being named during the session or in media reports

The 41-year-old, who retired earlier this year, told ITV News: "I have never ever cheated in my career, in my life. It goes against everything I believe in."

Radcliffe, whose marathon world record of 2hr 15min 25sec, set in 2003, is almost three minutes faster than any other woman has ever managed, said her achievements were down to hard work.

She told ITV: "I feel very angry, very hurt and very sad. I also feel very strongly that I haven't done anything wrong, so why should I be made to feel as though I have done something wrong and I need to defend myself?

"It shouldn't happen - an innocent athlete should never ever be put in the position I'm here in today. But having said that, I will do anything I can do to defend myself. I have never done anything wrong, and that will always be the case."

The DCMS hearing at the House of Commons saw committee chairman Jesse Norman seem to raise suspicions about a prominent British marathon runner while quizzing David Kenworthy, chairman of UK Anti Doping (UKAD),

Mr Norman asked: "When you hear that the London Marathon, potentially the winners or medallists at the London Marathon, potentially British athletes, are under suspicion for very high levels of blood doping. When you think of the effect that has on young people and the community nature of that event, what are your emotions about that, how do you feel about that?"

Mr Kenworthy said: "I think it is a tragedy if you and I are looking at a sporting event with a degree of cynicism about what we are seeing. I think it is our role to overcome that cynicism."

In a statement Radcliffe released after the committee hearing, she said she "wrestled long and hard with a desire to speak out" following last month's publication of the joint investigation by the Sunday Times and the German broadcaster ARD of 12,000 blood tests from 5,000 athletes between 2001 and 2012.

It claimed that more than 800 individuals - and a third of medallists in endurance events at Olympics and World Championships in that period - had suspicious blood test results which were not followed up by the IAAF.

Radcliffe told ITV News she was willing to release her blood data to those "properly qualified" to assess it. But she added that the tests in question had been taken after running events, something no longer done because of the effect running has on the body.

She told ITV: "There is no way that any of my samples ever provided, anywhere, can ever show any suspicion of doping - because it was never the case."

She added: "Other than running fast, what reason have they got to put me in this position?

"They're not asking Usain Bolt to justify why he set a world record, they're not asking any other world record holders to go out there and to justify and to publish their blood data to prove anything there."

Mr Norman later said that committee members had no access to the Sunday Times' database and "the witnesses in evidence and the committee itself at the hearing were all careful not to identify any individual athletes, and did not discuss specific allegations or test results".

He added: "It is untrue to suggest that the cloak of Parliamentary privilege has been used to implicate any specific individual in any form of doping."

The Sunday Times said its reporting had been "responsible and accurate".

A spokesman said: "We reject any suggestion that we have pressurised any athlete to publish blood data. Our stories have been welcomed by leading athletes and anti-doping campaigners.

"Following our disclosures, the IAAF suspended 28 athletes for 'adverse findings' in testing samples."

Radcliffe told Sky News she had no choice but to speak out after Mr Norman's comments.

She said he "alluded" to past winners or medallists of the London Marathon and "in that period, aside from in the wheelchair race, it only could be me, so essentially he identified me".

Radcliffe said: "Then people had free rein because of the parliamentary privilege to go ahead and name me in the press. At that point I am not prepared to be blackmailed by the paper in question any more on this matter and I am going to go out and defend myself.

"I wanted to avoid it because I did not want my name to be on the front page of all the papers. I definitely do not want my children to print their mum's name into Google and find that the first thing that comes up next to it is 'drugs cheat' or 'doper'. It is not something I ever wanted to happen.

"I will not stand by and not defend myself when I am put in this situation."

Radcliffe added: "If you are going to have a parliamentary hearing and raise certain questions, I really think it would have been normal for there to have been a representative of the IAAF - considering how they were attacked in the hearing - and myself there, to be able to defend yourself if you are going to be raise these questions."

Radcliffe went online to thank the public for their support.

She tweeted: "No way I can reply to everyone but I am humbled and touched beyond words by everyone's support. Thank you all."

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